Feeling fancy? Café Flora, located off Madison in Seattle, is the purported best vegetarian and vegan restaurant in the Northwest. This place is an experience from the moment you walk through the door, stroll the Dr. Seuss-meets-Van Gogh paintings of trees and birds, your nose is danced upon by the faint smells of fennel and hummus, captivated by the desire to get to know these aromas better. A smiling waiter will take you to your seat, with the haughty lilt in their voice passing by unnoticed because the only thought in mind will be: food, food, food. Your eyes will begin feasting upon the strange names on the menu, which is probably part of the master plan, as the prices would give many a college student an aneurism and anything distracting is good for business.
Given these prices, this is obviously a date. Whether with your mom, your significant other, your significant other’s mom, or all of the above; just bring someone. The meals will come to about $40-50 a head, and if you can spend that much money on yourself than you should give it to charity. That being said, this is the place to go for a fantastic night. I ordered Fig fennel pizza, chocolate brownie coupe and affogato, which is an espresso shot poured over coconut praline ice cream. One of the adults at the table ordered a bottle of absinthe that regaled the table with the now familiar smell of fennel and liqourice. When the food arrived, my mouth began to drool like a running hose. Baba ganoush, shaved fennel, balsamic & port infused figs, topped with toasted almonds, parsley, and lemon zest.
Now, I struggle with allergies involving any gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, or even corn can set my digestive system off like one of those science fair baking soda volcanoes. While I am fortunate enough not to suffer all too horribly, I am cursed to be in a country that is devoutly wedded to the lactation of bovines and the product of poultry menstruation. Thus, I simply do not go out to eat. It’s like playing Russian roulette, except five of the six cylinders are loaded and the bullets are nausea bombs. So when I can saunter into a restaurant, the very first thing I want to see on the menu, even before what’s in the food, is what is not in the food. Café Flora’s beautiful foods are heavily labeled with allergy information, clearly stating what I can and cannot eat. When I see something like this, I am filled with the kind of relief you either can relate to, or you don’t understand. But it’s a good feeling.
This is an experience you have to share, at least once. The prices are stifling, to be true, but it’s not disproportionate to the quality or quantity of food. When the day comes that you need to impress someone, take them to Flora, and impress.